The Portland Thorns announced the signing of former University of Oregon forward Marissa Everett to a National Team Replacement contract ahead of this weekend’s game at Sky Blue. Everett will be immediately available for selection, though it’s unclear if she traveled with the team to New Jersey. Everett was assigned number 40 in preseason with the team and seems likely to keep the number.
Everett played a game in preseason for the Thorns against the US U23 youth national team, playing as a number 10 alongside a few other bench players and non-roster invitees. She showed a few flashes there and even got a header away off target from a Madison Pogarch cross.
One of the many things that the Thorns will be missing in Caitlin Foord’s absence is a forward who is comfortable dropping off the front line and creating offense from midfield. Simone Charley and Tyler Lussi are good at stretching play, and Ana-Maria Crnogorcevic is good at drawing defenders away with lateral movement, but no one else on the team even remotely replicates Foord’s actions up and down the field. In theory, that’s something Everett can try to do—of course there’s no replacing someone of Foord’s quality, but getting someone who can approximate at least some of her qualities could end up being important for the team.
Getting minutes in the attacking midfield as she did in preseason also isn’t an impossibility, but this club is usually pretty reluctant to throw players into critical positions on short notice. It seems more likely that Parsons will trust his veterans in the middle of the park and see what new players can do up top in less defensively critical positions, but he flexibility to play multiple positions is part of the appeal of including Everett in the squad.
This is Portland’s first National Team Replacement signing this year, and with nine players out for the World Cup and new faces popping up in training, it seems unlikely to be the last.